Salvino's | New favourites in the heart of the city

Valletta’s seen a bit of a revival with more and more restaurants, cafés and bars opening up giving life to the ghost town our capital city becomes at night. Salvino’s has recently changed hands and since 4 April has been run under Steve Mamo, who transformed the place into what has become my new favourite restaurant.

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar
10 June 2013, 12:00am
Edward Di liberto, Samira Al Tumi and Steve Mamo, the new team behind Salvino’s (Photos by Ray Attard)
Edward Di liberto, Samira Al Tumi and Steve Mamo, the new team behind Salvino’s (Photos by Ray Attard)
I had heard a lot of good things about Salvino's before I went there. For a mid-week break from life's monotony, we trundled off to Valletta ready for a fantastic meal to come.

Salvino's has always been a dark and dingy place, that always looked like it could use a visit from Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie from the UK television programme How Clean is Your House? When we got there it seems like, they've had more than the cleaners in and given the place a proper revamp.

Built by the knights the restaurant served as a bomb shelter during the war and as a prison later on. After its revamp, I can't imagine anyone being too unhappy about a sentence to Salvino's!

The beautiful old stone has been treated, so it's no longer peeling off the ceiling and falling into your plate. The dark colours have been replaced with bright whites and better lighting gives the place a cleaner, airier feel that is still warm and cosy.

 

One thing they have kept at the new Salvino's is the bright and bubbly Samira at front of house. With a warm smile and friendly attitude she knows the score and is happy to have a chat and recommend her favourites.

The menu is short - as it should be with a balance of a few starters, pasta dishes, salads, meats and desserts to ensure that everything remains fresh. There is also a specials board with dishes that change daily depending on what fresh ingredients are available at the market that day.

What is most impressive about the menu is the flavour and texture combinations that Steve puts into the menus - pasta with vongole and truffle oil, octopus with a chickpea puree, carpaccio of beef with horseradish ice-cream, banana tarte tatin with bacon and peanut butter ice-cream (more raving about this ice-cream to come later).

Every bite seems to be so tender and juicy it is unbelievable. Talking to Steve later in the evening he explains why. Almost every item on the menu is cooked sous-vide - a French method of cooking whereby ingredients - meat and vegetables - are placed into an air-tight plastic bag and cooked in a water bath for long periods of time at an accurately regulated, lower than normal temperature. The idea is that food is cooked evenly and the outside does not get done before the inside resulting in juicier meats. 

For starters we went for the beef carpaccio served with roasted beetroots and a horseradish ice-cream and octopus salad with chickpea puree. While beef and horseradish are normally associated together, the ice-cream adds a texture that is truly unique - and simply delicious. I wasn't very excited about the octopus salad until I took the first bite. The flavours really do go very well and the octopus has to have been the most tender I have ever eaten.

 

Beef carpaccio wit roasted beetroots and horseradish ice-cream

A quick in-between of linguine with vongole and truffle oil and another pasta dish with asparagus, ricotta, mushrooms and more truffle oil were simply divine. Though getting quite full by this stage it seems impossible to stop eating to leave room for what is still to come.

For mains we had pork cheeks, served with a deep fried pork fillet in panko breadcrumbs and some beautifully sautéed julienne vegetables. The meat pork cheeks were so tender and juicy you could cut them with a fork and the fillet was such a perfect combination of juicy meat and crispy breadcrumbs.

And then there's dessert. This was by far my favourite - a banana tarte tatin served with bacon and peanut butter ice-cream. I've always been a fan of salt in my desserts and bacon makes everything better. A recipe of chocolate covered bacon earned me three marriage proposals in 20 minutes at one party I attended last summer but this is ice-cream is as original as it is spectacular. There are no words to explain how truly yummy this is. My only advice is to swing by and try it.

 

Banana tarte tatin with peanut butter and bacon ice-cream

This dish really is a testament to Steve's creativity in the kitchen. This was a dish he created at the last minute on opening night as he thought the menu needed another dessert. I, for one, am certainly glad he did!

The verdict of the place? This has to be my new favourite restaurant. So much so that I booked the entire restaurant the following week to celebrate my birthday with friends. If you haven't already tried it, then what are you waiting for?

Salvino's is open from Wednesday to Friday for lunch and Wednesday to Saturday for dinner.

Salvino's

32, Archbishop Street, Valletta

 

21246437

 

Find them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/salvinosrestaurant

 

 

 

 

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar graduated in economics from the University of Malta...